Saturday, July 12, 2014

Week in review: 5 – 11 July, 2014

CMBO is pleased to provide weekly summaries of the Cape's birding highlights. Coverage is limited to sightings in Cape May County. Readers should keep in mind that some reports may not be confirmed. The vast majority of information utilized in these reports comes from eBird data and "Keekeekerr" text alerts. Observers are encouraged to send reports and photos to compiler Tom Reed (coturnicops at gmail dot com).

Location Abbreviations/Explanations: CMP (town of Cape May Point), CMPSP (Cape May Pt. State Park), SCMM (South Cape May Meadows), Cove Pool (boardwalk and adjacent marsh/pools, accessible from the west end of Mount Vernon Ave in Cape May), WMA (Wildlife Management Area-- Tuckahoe).

       A disturbingly large congregation of Mute Swans remained at Tuckahoe WMA this week, with 54 individuals counted there 8 Jul (CB, CM). CMP's summering Black Scoter flock still numbered between 80–100 individuals through the period, along with at least 3 Surf Scoters (m. ob.). A Red-breasted Merganser, also summering locally, was again reported from Jarvis Sound 6 Jul (SGa). Gadwall continued to be reported on a daily basis from Cove Pool, SCMM, and CMPSP, with a maximum of 7 at SCMM on 8 Jul (VE). Evidence of breeding at these sites remained elusive. Another land-based report of Great Shearwater was logged this week, when one flew south past Sunset Beach 9 Jul (m. ob.). Wilson's Storm-Petrels continued to be seen in small numbers from CMP, and 7 were tallied during the New Jersey portion of a ferry crossing 10 Jul (JS). Occasional reports of Brown Pelicans continued to trickle in as the week progressed; the period's max of 6 was notched at Poverty Beach on 6 Jul (AC). Great Blue Herons are largely absent from Cape May County during late-spring and early-summer, but apparent southbound migrants start to appear in Jul as demonstrated by 9+ over CMP on 5 Jul, following the passage of a cold front (TR et al.). Jul also likely serves as the peak for Glossy Ibis migration-- 150+ headed south past Cape Island 5 Jul (TR et al.). A Mississippi Kite over SCMM and CMP 5 Jul was undoubtedly a product of northwest winds (m. ob.). 
[Great Blue Heron arriving from offshore and 
dropping into SCMM, 5 Jul. Photo by Tom Reed.]
       Piping Plover continues to struggle mightily this summer, with just a single pair still attempting to nest in the county as of 11 Jul (NJDFW). On a happier note, shorebird migration picked up the pace this week. Southbound American Avocets were exceptional on multiple days at Cape Island. A brace was observed fleeing Cove Pool toward Delaware 8 Jul (DW), followed by a trio over SCMM 10 Jul which eventually exited toward the west (WC, AC). Northerly winds produced a light but steady flight of shorebirds at SCMM 9 Jul, including 42 Lesser Yellowlegs and 48 Short-billed Dowitchers (SR). The next day, rainy conditions teamed up with northwest winds to produce another morning movement that included 30+ Whimbrel, 40+ Lesser Yellowlegs, 60+ Short-billed Dowitchers, and 100+ Least Sandpipers over SCMM 10 Jul (m. ob.). Upland Sandpiper has unfortunately become a scarce fall migrant at Cape May, therefore one was a most welcome sight in the dunes at SCMM 5 Jul (VE, m. ob.). The season's first Stilt Sandpiper flew over West Cape May 9 Jul (MO'B). 
[Upland Sandpiper at SCMM, 5 Jul. Photo by Tom Reed.]
       Increased numbers of gulls and terns were feeding in "the rips" offshore CMP this week, and this influx likely drew in a slightly unseasonal Parasitic Jaeger, reported from the Coral Avenue dune crossover 8 Jul (SGl). Scattered Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued to occupy beaches along the ocean side and at Cape Island, including 6+ encountered at SCMM in recent days (m. ob.). Terns were also in the news this week. The year's first Sandwich Tern, an adult, was photographed at SCMM 7 Jul (m. ob.), and the same or another was noted at CMP 9 Jul (MK). Rare in Delaware Bay north of Cape Island, another Sandwich Tern put in a brief appearance at Reed's Beach 8 Jul (TR). At least 2 Roseate Terns played hide-and-seek with birders between SCMM and CMP through the week, and a Black Tern visited CMPSP 8 Jul (SGl). Tuckahoe WMA continued to host Gull-billed Terns on a regular basis, and at least 4 were studied in the impoundments there 8 Jul (CB, CM). 
 [Roseate Tern at CMPSP, 8 Jul. Photo by Karl Lukens.]
       After a lengthy absence, a/the Eurasian Collared-Dove surfaced at CMP this week, with the most recent report coming from the corner of Lehigh & Lincoln Avenues 11 Jul (WC, m. ob.). Observers are encouraged to continue reporting any sightings of this species. Cliff Swallow occurrences in Cape May seem intensely tied to westerly winds-- 8+ were found at SCMM and CMPSP during strong northwest winds 5 Jul (m. ob.). New Jersey's 4th Brown-headed Nuthatch briefly made its presence known at the Coral Avenue dune crossover, CMP 5 Jul (MO'B, LZ). It has not been reported since. Perhaps not surprisingly, all New Jersey records of this southern species have occurred at CMP, and 3 have been discovered in the dune-top pines along the bay side of town. Southbound songbird migration is just starting to fire up. The aforementioned cold front produced a few migrants over SCMM and CMP 5 Jul, including 9 Indigo Buntings and 4 Bobolinks (m. ob.). Single Bobolinks were also noted flying over Reed's Beach 6 Jul and 11 Jul (TR). 

Catherine Busch (CB), Warren Cairo (WC), Alan Crawford (AC), Vince Elia (VE), Sam Galick (SGa), Steven Glynn (SGl), Mark Kantrowitz (MK), Karl Lukens, Christina Marks (CM), NJDFW (New Jersey Divison of Fish & Wildlife staff), Michael O'Brien (MO'B), Tom Reed (TR), Steven Rodan (SR), Jeff Shenot (JS), Daniel Weeks (DW), Louise Zemaitis (LZ).


*eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Accessed 11 Jul 2014. Available:
*Fogg, B. 2013. Keekeekerr: Recent Text Alerts. Accessed 11 Jul 2014. Available:
*JerseyBirds [electronic mailing list]. 2014. July archives. Accessed 11 Jul 2014. Available: